“How can we better live our lives in such a way that we can put God first?”
I received the above question from a reader last week and it has got me reflecting a bit on what it really means to put God first.
The easy answer (that just requires a bit of discipline) is to put into place the regular daily/weekly habits that give you frequent opportunities to grow in relationship with God. Mass every Sunday is [obviously] required. Daily prayer is, as well (preferably with the Scriptures). Regular confession is something we all really need to be in the habit of because we all are in need of God’s Mercy. Personally, I make it a habit to read the day’s mass readings each morning and pray a rosary with my family each night. Regular little practices like these are needed in the life of a Christian who wants to grow in relationship with Jesus.
I said all of that is the easy part. If you are not already in the habit, then getting used to these practices will take some time and some effort, but eventually they will become second nature.
However, I think to really answer the question of how we can put God first, Saint John Paul II said it best:
“One must arrange one’s life so that everything praises God.”
This is really the more challenging part of the answer. Once in the habit, that daily family rosary is actually pretty easy, and if we’re not attentive, it can become little more than a box on a checklist, begrudgingly prayed day after day simply because “we’re supposed to.”
It’s ok to go through times of spiritual dryness, and times like these actually strengthen our faith and deepen our devotions. But from time to time, we owe it to our relationship with Jesus to take stock of our lives and ask ourselves:
Am I living my life in a way that everything praises God?
Do I glorify God in my work—offering my best efforts, my successes and even my struggles to Him as an act of praise? Do my interactions with others reflect the Christian belief that they are created in His image and after His likeness? Do my thoughts and dealings with myself bear in mind that I am a beloved child of God? Do I recognize that everything in my life comes from Him and is ordered in His Providence for me to grow closer to Him?
All of this ought to be the driving force behind our regular devotions and our prayers. Beyond just a sense of duty, love for the Person of Jesus Christ should drive us to put Him first in everything, to arrange our lives so that every moment and every decision is made with Him in mind. Putting God first is the work of our whole lives as Christians! Let’s pray that we continually draw closer to Him, and not just settle for a check list.